China Air Pollution

As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, China has abundant tourism resources, the vast majority of which are of great renown. However, the number of tourists visiting China declined from 2013, mostly due to its increasingly serious air pollution. Many cities have been adversely affected by hazy weather since the beginning of 2013. This is especially true of central and eastern China’s cities such as Tangshan, Jinan, Zhengzhou, and Xi'an for example.

It is known to all that the rapid development of China’s economy in the past 30 years resulted in environmental degradation. Nevertheless, the hazy weather records of China in 2013 attracted global attention. It is a pity that as a consequence some foreign residents choose to give up their jobs and life in China.

China Air Pollution Map

As what can be seen from the above map, central China, eastern and south China are the most effected districts, especially the Yangtze River Delta including Shanghai. Not without consequence, this air pollution map is almost the same as the map of China’s population distribution.  The air quality is good in most part of northern and northwest China. Furthermore, the hazy weather has obvious seasonal characteristic, which usually occurs in the autumn and winter.


Air Quality Index (AQI)

As the new standard of measurement for air quality, AQI is a quantitative description of the air quality index. The major pollutants involved in the analysis including fine particulate matter (PM2.5), inhalable particles (PM10), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO). Here PM2.5 and PM10 are measured in micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3).

According to “Technical Regulation on Ambient Air Quality Index (on trial)”, AQI is divided into six levels in total, with Level one being the best and Level six being the worst.


AQI and Health Implications

AQI Air Quality Health Implications
0–50 Excellent No air pollution.
51–100 Good Few hypersensitive individuals should reduce the time for outdoor activities.
101–150 Lightly Polluted Slight irritations may occur, children, and those who with breathing or heart problems should reduce outdoor exercise.
151–200 Moderately Polluted Irritations may occur, and it may have an impact on healthy people’s heart and / or respiratory system, so all people should reduce the time for outdoor exercise.
201–300 Heavily Polluted Healthy people will be noticeably affected. People with breathing or heart problems will lack exercise tolerance. Those patients, children and elders should remain indoors.
300+ Severely Polluted Even healthy people will lack endurance during activities. There may be strong irritations and symptoms. So all people should avoid outdoor activities.

Air Quality Rankings of Chinese Major Tourist Cities in 2019

Rank City Province belongs to AQI Air Quality Level PM 2.5 PM 10
1 Lijiang Yunnan 16 Excellent 6 16
2 Sanya Hainan 17 Excellent 9 14
3 Kunming Yunnan 18  Excellent  12 16
4 Dali  Yunnan 18 Excellent 13 16
5 Haikou Hainan 19 Excellent 4 15
6 Lhasa Tibet 21 Excellent 4 6
7 Jinan Shandong 21 Excellent 11 17
8 Dalian Liaoning  22 Excellent 14 22
9 Guiyang Guizhou 22 Excellent 11 21
10 Shanghai Shanghai 22 Excellent 12 22
11 Qingdao Shandong 24 Excellent 8 24
12 Nanjing  Jiangsu  24 Excellent 9 24
13 Suzhou Jiangsu 24 Excellent 8 24
14 Shenzhen Guangdong 25 Excellent 11 22
15 Xiamen Fujian 29 Excellent  12  29
16 Fuzhou Fujian 33 Excellent 9 33
17 Shijiazhuang Hebei  33 Excellent 11 17
18 Nanning Guangxi  34 Excellent  14  34
19 Chongqing     Chongqing 35 Excellent 13 27
20 Hangzhou  Zhejiang 35 Excellent  13  27
21 Zhangjiajie  Hunan 35 Excellent 19 35
22 Datong Shanxi 36 Excellent 21 33
23 Guilin Guangxi 36 Excellent 25 34
24 Baotou Inner Mongolia 37 Excellent 20 37
25 Changchun Jilin 38 Excellent 20 38
26 Chengdu  Sichuan  39 Excellent 22 39
27 Zhengzhou Henan 39 Excellent 14 39
28 Beijing Beijing 41 Excellent 29 95
29 Harbin Heilongjiang 42 Excellent 18 42
30 Hohhot Inner Mongolia 43 Excellent 30 42
31 Zhangjiakou Hebei 44 Excellent 9 22
32 Shengyang Liaoning  44  Excellent 26 42
33 Yangzhou Jiangsu 45 Excellent 16 45
34 Hefei Anhui 46 Excellent 19 46
35 Urumqi Xinjiang 47  Excellent  11  47
36 Yinchuan Ningxia 48 Excellent 21 48
37 Taiyuan Shanxi 48 Excellent 33 40
38 Lanzhou Gansu 50 Excellent 22 50
39 Xining Qinghai 52 Good 32 54
40 Wuhan Hubei 53 Good 34 56
41 Changsha Hunan 57 Good 30 48
42 Xi'an Shaanxi 59 Good 34 68
43 Luoyang Henan 59  Good  41 67
44 Tianjin Tianjin  63 Good 39 76
45 Guangzhou Guangdong 93 Good 38 75

Note: AQI and Air Quality Level may vary day by day; the data here is just average value for reference only.
- Last modified on Aug. 05, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Air Pollution
Asked by Sofia from USA | Aug. 01, 2019 09:26Reply
What is the air quality like in late November?
My family and I are going to Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai at the end of November into the beginning of December. Will the air quality be bad during that time?
Answers (1)
Answered by Aurora from POLAND | Aug. 01, 2019 18:42

According to the previous weather statistics, the air quality won't be so good in these cities during that period of time. You are suggested to wear masks when touring around.
Asked by Melanie Jackson from USA | Jun. 09, 2019 14:25Reply
Wondering if I will need a filtered face mask for China in October?
We will be traveling to Bejing, Shanghai, Xi’an and Chengdu the last half of October 2019. I have seen several sites with varying pollution indices, from 100-250 for these cities. So I’m wondering if a mask is best?
Answers (1)
Answered by Aaryn from POLAND | Jun. 10, 2019 23:23

Generally speaking, the pollution problem won't be so serious during that period of time. But you'd better to bring the face mask.
Asked by Lukas Petersson from SWEDEN | Apr. 26, 2019 07:23Reply
Zhengzhou, Jining or Yantai? Going for 6 weeks in July.
I am going to either Zhengzhou, Jining or Yantai in July for 6 weeks to train Kung Fu. what will be the air quality of these places during that time? should this heavily affect my decision on which city to go to?
Answers (1)
Answered by Jacob from CANADA | May. 09, 2019 18:26

Lukas, generally speaking, the air pollution won't be that serious during that period of time. It won't influence the sightseeing. Have a nice journey!
Asked by Erik Craig from UNITED STATES | Mar. 30, 2019 21:29Reply
I'm hoping to visit Nanjing at the end of August and early September this year
and am concerned about air quality at that time of the year. I was there last November and had to cut my trip short by three days as the air was so bad.
Answers (1)
Answered by Sally from BELGIUM | Mar. 31, 2019 19:56

Generally, the air quality in Nanjing from June to September is much better than any other time.
Asked by LASI | Jan. 09, 2019 09:38Reply
Hello, would you tell me please what is the average AQI in Hong Kong in late April?
Answers (1)
Answered by Andy from CANADA | Jan. 09, 2019 18:42

Hi, the AQI of HK at present is about 40 but I can't find the data in April.
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